Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Dr Julian Lewis argued that despite the EU’s intention of delving into the field of defence it would be inconceivable that PESCO would take precedence over NATO in the event of an international crisis threatening Europe.
He said: “Ever since the European Union started delving into this field of defence in addition to its other areas of interest and activity there has always been this danger of it duplicating the role of NATO and undermining it.
“And we have had constant references to whether there should or shouldn’t be a European armed force in general and a European army in particular.
“If we’re talking about a serious international crisis, then it is inconceivable that NATO wouldn’t be in the forefront of this.”
Asked if leaving the EU could jeopardise the UK’s defence position in the event of a conflict, he replied: “So when we’re talking about the EU taking defence initiatives on their own, these are defence initiatives that must be at a level at which NATO has decided for whatever reason it doesn’t need to act as the primary security organisation of the western world.
“So we’re inevitably dealing with rather more limited issues involving perhaps a particular country and there it is inconceivable that the 27 countries that are in the EU would be unaware of Britain’s view on that particular issue.”
Earlier in April, French Defence Ministry sources have revealed France will launch a deployable European military crisis force in June, as they confirmed the army would work outside of existing European Union efforts.
Paris has been in touch with a dozen countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark, over the proposed military crisis force, and held a working group to outline the idea in March.
The idea aims to bring together European countries with a military capacity and political desire to collaborate on planning, carry out joint analyses of emerging crises and to react to them quickly.
One insider said: ”It would not be within the European Union and would allow countries outside it, like Britain, to be part of it.”
A French military source added: ”The EU’s second-biggest army is leaving the union so this multilateral project makes sense when everything is being broken up.”
French President Emmanuel Macron broadly outlined the idea to have a rapid European intervention force by the end of the decade during a landmark speech on Europe last September.
While some EU tactical interventional groups exist in principle, so far they have never been used.
The sources declined to name the countries that would be at a launch ceremony in Paris in June but added it did not mean nations could not join it a later stage.
A second French defence source said: “It’s creating a smaller group of countries that have common analysis and procedures.”